For my sister

4.2.10 050

My sister killed herself this year.

It was a planned meticulously carried out  almost peaceful suicide. Her very last written words were ” I hate my life. I’m leaving”

She suffered terribly, especially these last few years. It would be easy to  talk about her obvious mental health issues- the hammer she took to all her relationships-her purposeful isolation from family, her purposeful destruction of her  marriage, her purposeful pushing away of everyone- she smashed it all.

She set up an auto post on a blog she  started after  her divorce which published after her death –

A post called “Some things are cumulative… ” with links to multiple articles about  what happens to rape victims who never heal.

While all this  explains a lot of the whys none of it much matters to me. From this angle it reduces her to a sad statistic, another of the endless statements about the damage humans do to each other and themselves, blah, blah, blah.


I’m not sure talking about who she was is useful either though it  matters to me . I sit and talk to her by this creek every day. I talk to the fearless tree climber. I watch her catch fish after fish, I listen to her giggle , tell stupid jokes, and remember how she sat down to a piano and pounded out Beethoven by ear.

None of it means anything in the end. She’s gone and I know she’s gone.

What does matter is that conversation about sexual violence is in the news now .

Victim blaming, victim shaming, nasty sickening mob feeding frenzy garbage seeking to normalize assault as “locker room banter” and paint women who speak up as political operatives.


My sister was attacked at least four times. Four times some pig hurt her. (I say pig because real men don’t do things like that.) Four times some pig overpowered and harmed her- once with a gun.

She finally broke. She couldn’t do it anymore.

And we owe her, all of us, we owe her, we owe all women dignity and respect and real safety. Period.

Screw the games and bickering and blaming- we owe women dignity, respect and real safety.

Til then, we :

“…now, lifting him up, in his coffin, on our shoulders,

now at least we know how much he didn’t have,

that we did not help him in his life on earth.

Now it dawns on us we are taking on

all that we never gave him, and now it is late;

he weighs on us, and we cannot take his weight.

How many people does our dead one weight?

He weighs as much as this world does, and we go on

taking this dead one on our shoulders.”

from Pablo Neruda’s  To The Dead Poor Man

Published in: on October 25, 2016 at 7:36 pm  Comments (5)  

I want to have a conversation

con·ver·sa·tion  [kon-ver-sey-shuhn]

1.informal interchange of thoughts, information, etc., by spoken words; oral communication between persons; talk; colloquy.”

Life got complicated and busy, more so than usual last summer, and I kept thinking “if nothing else, it will all slow down in winter and I will have time in the long dark…”

Another summer  is now just round the corner and nothing has slowed down. Pffft.

Now , I’m wondering if this all isn’t another function of experiencing the outer middle-age thingy- some other piece of the how time speeds up and threatens to chuck -one -off -the -rail dealie.

Anyway , I’m just sneaking a few minutes here and hope someone has a few minutes to stop by and chat.

Running alongside all the external busy-ness of this last year is an internal and, so far, personal conversation . Internal conversations often have value for me in that they serve as a quiet place to sort , collate and/or  discard ideas . Sooner or later , it is important to chuck my questions and conclusions back into the community to see if they stand up to the light of day.

Alongside a bazillion other Americans, I have been puzzling about what feels like a systemic failure to pull ourselves together and get anything useful done for ourselves.

I’m weary of the horsepunky we’ve been wasting our time on, most especially the name calling and one-up manship games which dominate our national and state headlines . All that nasty foolishness can be some kind of sick fun at times but doesn’t do anything useful.

The stock notion that there are irreconcilable differences between 2 political philosophies as embodied by our 2 major parties is increasingly replaced by a notion that the 2 parties are indistinguishable from each other and that we should and must rid ourselves of both.

I’m not sure that is really what is going on . While I understand the frustration, I think we are cheating ourselves by throwing up our hands and trying to start all over.

I would rather take a step away, circle the block, and peek  at the melee from a slightly different angle.

The angle I find myself looking from is somewhat difficult to describe , in large part because I can’t think of ways to describe it without bringing up hot button issues which I don’t really want to talk about themselves, but I’m going to try.

One of my pet peeves is the endless “Ha!  Logic and reason are never/not/unknown in the (fill-in-the-blank) ‘s arguments!” routine. This routine irritates the daylights out of me.

All humans build up constructs , whether it is a worldview or a specific position, using logic and reason to stick all the bits and pieces together.

Some constructs work better than others, some work in limited instances, some never work very well , and so on.

I think we would serve ourselves better if we quit denying there is any logic in a stance we disagree with. It would be wiser to try to understand what the logic is and see if it can stand the light of day, or perhaps better said, how much light-of-day .

It seems to me that  we have made some profound shifts in the ground we stand on in the last 30 years and for some peculiar reason continue to argue as if we have not.

The acceptance that   neoliberal economic thought   and policies better suit what we want to do with ourselves has been an odd exercise to me. We shifted our whole view of the individual and society as per an economic model and have been duking it out as to what that means as to how we govern ourselves since then, without specifically saying what we are doing.

The Centrist or Third Way views that we can marry the needs and desires of the left and right sides in our public policies based on an economic model have found a home in the Democratic Party .

The term Third Way refers to various political positions which try to reconcile right-wing and left-wing politics by advocating a varying synthesis of right-wing economic and left-wing social policies.

I don’t think this Third Way/ Centrist dealie is  looked at carefully as a philosophy often enough and certainly see it as the WHAT  that has contributed to the seeming sameness of both major parties. I remain  unconvinced that it is a sensible strategy as I remain unconvinced that neoliberal economic policies are just and good and sane.

Personally, I’d like to see us really look at neoliberal economics and what we have allowed ourselves to do to ourselves in the name of this set of notions.

And , equally,  I’d like to see us drop the seeming prevailing notion that moderate= Centrist in favor of a real look at what we mean by each.

On a local/state note:

I had the peculiar experience of being told in the context of Alaskan Democratic politics that “we don’t want to look extreme, we want to stay moderate ” a year ago when I attempted to start and sustain a conversation about what has gone haywire  with the Party’s relationship with rural and  specifically Native Alaska.

As an immoderate soul , I was amused AND irritated by the scuttle-back-to-some-place-of-safety attitude.

 The wanna-be-moderate remarks were made in the context of a great deal of we-don’t-know-what-has-gone-wrong-with-our-relationship-with-the-bush verbal hand wringing so it was sadly funny that the conversation was cut off when an attempt was made to get at what has gone wrong.


So , what has gone wrong?

How can we talk about these things?

Be these things local, state, or national?

I don’t buy the idea that we are more divided than we have ever been.

Is that a place to start?

Published in: on April 28, 2012 at 6:42 am  Comments (10)  

What a crummy piece of news…

Parent corporation Calista is closing and liquidating  their Alaska Newpapers, Inc subsidiary.  

While I understand the business decision, I am sad that these newspapers will no longer be available for news of rural Alaska within their  communities and for the rest of the state.

I hope the staff finds well paying, decent jobs and am very much hoping we will see some of those bylines in other Alaskan publications.

I will miss you ANI

Published in: on July 22, 2011 at 5:02 pm  Comments (2)  

Not so sure…

this is a good idea:

“H.AMDT.449 (A031) Amends: H.R.2112 Sponsor: Rep Young, Don [AK] (offered 6/15/2011) AMENDMENT PURPOSE: An amendment to prohibit the use of funds made available by this Act to the Food and Drug Administration to approve any application for approval of genetically engineered salmon.”

While I have  grave concerns about the state and nature of the FDA approval process as regards genetically engineered salmon ,  I’m not sure Congress should address this from this angle. Refusing to authorize money to continue the process doesn’t solve the problems in the FDA approval methodology and guidelines nor does it truly address any of the issues surrounding the debate.


‘Q. How will these products be regulated?

A. Most, but probably not all, gene-based modifications of animals for production or therapeutic claims fall under CVM regulation as new animal drugs. As strange as it may seem at first, many of the modifications being investigated involve the addition of new animal drug substances. For example, adding growth hormone to a cow can be accomplished through use of BST injections, through gene therapies to create BST-producing regions in the body of the cow, or through germ-line modification, making a transgenic variety that contains extra BST-coding genes in every cell of the body, including reproductive cells. It all amounts to adding an animal drug, but the conditions are different – dose, areas of the body where the drug is released, opportunity for a withdrawal time, etc. The substances being added are for the purpose of improving animal health or productivity.’

The approval process appears to rely on a narrow set of criteria for judgment which gives but passing glance at the larger world the “product” will inhabit.

If we want to be able to balance other considerations against possible approval , wouldn’t we be better off addressing that?

I am anti-transgenic fish for a variety of reasons but am quite concerned about this vote.

Do we want to applaud what amounts to an end run around such important issues by simply falling back to “starve the beast” behavior?

Do we?

Please read the Daily Journal regarding H.AMDT.449 when the amendment was introduced and tell me what you think.

Are we going to enact law, in the form of budgetary support or not,  everytime we get our britches in a bunch?


Relying on Congress’ Constitutional  authority to regulate interstate commerce our same Representative filed this :



Amends the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (commonly known as the Clean Water Act) to repeal the authority of the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to prohibit the specification of, or to deny or restrict the use of, a defined area as a disposal site for the discharge of dredged or fill material into navigable waters.


It was referred to the Subcommittee  on Water Resources and Environment  1/27/11, the day after introduction.

I don’t know at this time if it has truly been taken up or is just sitting there like so many proposed bills do but I see something quite fishy in this proposal.

Navigable waters are more than navigable waters. They are also fish waters, drinking waters, etc. which we expect the EPA to have authority to regulate or participate in regulating.

The EPA is due to review issues surrounding  the  Pebble Mine   which certainly includes nearby navigable waters .

The largest single concern regarding Pebble is the proposed method of containing mining waste so it doesn’t get into any waters , including navigable waters.

To me, supporting our salmon fishery with an end run around regulatory bodies via budget witholding while proposing to ignore that same fishery in support of  mining interests (on state land) getting  protection of sorts  by amending important federal environmental law does not speak to good law or policy.


But setting all that aside for a moment, why didn’t our Representative use this method in this latest argument with a federal agency?

Why not propose to change the FDA agency’s scope and duties as he did here with the EPA?

Is it because it’s easier to legislate with appropriations than actually creating law openly? 

I’m not happy about this.

We haven’t settled transgenic fish issues properly.

If this bill passes into law we have just put off the day we have to deal with this.

And told ourselves we HAVE dealt with it with headlines like these :

 No ‘Frankensalmon’ in America: Congress bans FDA from approving genetically modified fish


GMO salmon Frankenfish banned for sale in U.S., almost
 Both articles give a fair amount of useful background, links to the FDA approval process and so on  but don’t address  the “ban” language directly.    It is not a ban in any open legislative sense- it is a prohibition against spending money to finish that which statute apparently already allows the FDA to do.

If this passes into law, we have not banned transgenic fish , we have refused to directly ban it in favor of a sneak attack on funding to finish the approval process.

This should scare the bejabbers out of everyone no matter what side of the transgenic fish issue they are on.

There are some real problems with how approval is granted but fixing the program makes more sense than this amendment does.

This is no way to develop nor advance meaningful policy decisions.


Published in: on June 25, 2011 at 9:00 am  Comments (3)  

what we can grow…

Victoria Briggs and I have been corresponding back and forth about the hows , whats, and maybes? of increasing the season we can grow more of our own food.

This year, by using Eliot Coleman’s double layered approach to cool weather gardening, I have been able to start and grow spinach and 4 kinds of lettuces  outdoors weeks earlier than is the norm in my part of Alaska.

I am eating goodies, daily, grown fully outdoors without aid of  added heat or lights and so on, weeks ahead of the norm here.

My initial run at this method needs some tweaking but the excitement I feel about being able to use the light from longer days sooner is a powerful motivator to do that tweaking ! 🙂

So is knowing it IS possible to have lovely fresh greens before the salmonberries even fully leaf out!

Most of us are somewhat familiar with the “what is  possible” in the Interior and South Central  but it is hard to extrapolate from what is known for those areas to the varied climates and conditions across this huge state.

I read the SNRAS  ( UAF School of Natural Resources & Agricultural Sciences ) blog regularly as those folks maintain an “ear to the ground” for any and all projects and information relating to gardening/agriculture  as well as sharing their own projects. The links they have on the right side of  the page are an incredible collection of information to browse when I have time.

I talk to people , until their eyes roll back in their heads sometimes, about what they do and how and where. My area is full of different microclimates which dramatically affect methodology and possible food yield. Heavy rains drench my part of the borough in July, August, and September but a mere 6-10 miles away run half or less the precipitation I get as well as   higher daytime /cooler night temps.

I hope I can translate this beginning of the season extender to an end of the season extender. This is a fun project !

Published in: on May 22, 2011 at 6:30 am  Comments (11)  


A friend sent me this hug for my birthday.
The loss of my beloved nephew to murder colors my birthdays now .
I received the horrible news in what I assumed  would be the first celebration phone call of the day 3 birthdays ago.
I woke from a dream about him this morning.

 I heard his voice.

I touched his cheek.

We laughed.
I really, really needed this hug.
Thank you dear friend.

Went to watch seals and birds and fishing boats today in this place the family last gathered in full numbers to celebrate.

Cold and wet and quiet today

Quiet enough to hear that boy’s laugh across the years since he stood there with me last.

Published in: on May 12, 2011 at 7:15 am  Comments (3)  

Time is almost up

I had great hopes of staying on top of  redistricting issues in this year of reapportionment . I’m way behind.

And it’s almost time for the Redistricting Board to submit its plan! Agh!

Thank heavens for the time and effort Steve Aufrecht has put into following the board on his blog What Do I Know ?

He started March 15, the day the board received 2010 census data, and has continued, in over 40 posts, to follow the whos, whats, whys, and how comes of this very important process.

Thank you Steve!!!

Published in: on April 10, 2011 at 5:48 am  Leave a Comment  

too busy, too long…

Sometimes there’s too much to do for too long,

and for so long I can’t remember why I’m doing any of it

The last few months have been that way.

There’s still no end in sight but I find I must sit  and catch up a bit with things which matter to me .


This essay made a lot of sense when I read it last fall and has continued to through many readings.

The Royal “We”

by Paul Waldman at The American Prospect

“The truth, though, is that “the American people” don’t have opinions or beliefs or judgments. Each one of us does, and subsets of us share some things in common, but the idea of a collective national will is a fantasy.”

We do spend a lot of time talking about the -American-people, Americans-think, blah, blah, blah.

The tendency to generalize is human and it seems tidy but so very often we generalize from shaky ground. Or for shaky reasons.

I’m reasonably good at spotting shaky foundations in what others say but have a bit more trouble spotting my own

( At least until it rains and I  end up all of a heap on the ground because my soapbox turned out to be cardboard instead of something sturdy 🙂 )

Lately,  I spend a fair amount of time at The Fallacy Files  when I’m puzzling through  an essay or speech , by politicians in particular, which “feels funny”.

There are many, many examples and discussions available there  to help flesh out  what-is-haywire-with-this type questions I have.

I think  the Fallacy Watch section , Familiar Contextomies and How to Read a Poll,   is particularly interesting.

Reminds me of my dad’s exhortation to be wary even of those you agree with when it comes to devices of style in rhetoric.


My mind is much on fish though I don’t really have time right now to talk much about issues.

However, I found it interesting that Tyler Rhodes thought it important to correct the article
Wards Cove sale a new day for Native corporation ” as regards the Native Corporation mention but skims, as most folks do, over the fact that Siu Alaska and Coastal Villages Pollock are for-profit  subsidiaries of non -profit Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation and Coastal Villages Regional Fund respectively.

Native Corporations are those formed under the Alaska Native Settlement Claims Act ,  ANSCA, and definitely have nothing to do with Community Development Quota corporations which were formed under the  Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act .


The  relationship between the parent CDQ non-profits and their  for-profit subsidiaries has not been discussed out in the open much.

Or when they are, there is not enough attention paid.

This one,
 CDQ group suffers as tightly-closed fraternity
still makes the hair on my head stand straight up a year and a half later. I think allowing for Mr Taufen’s bias (which is very like my own ) or bypassing it, enough remains here to question a number of things about the feeder corporations in relation to the so-called parent corps.

Wesley Loy regularly reports on CDQ news at Deckboss.

The comments here run the gamut of concerns by stakeholders and interested parties.

While one might dismiss many comments as sour grapes, ignorant, whatever , there seems to me to be common themes the CDQs ( they are all different ) do not address publicly with their stakeholders.

 Or skim over. Or gloss over.

For those who don’t live near the coast , federal fisheries management turns on notions of property now, in the form of quota for the right to fish. The set aside quota for CDQs has indeed made money. The movement and expansion to fishing their own quota has indeed generated money.

But whether stakeholder communities really benefit as originally envisioned is a whole other ballgame. A real way of measuring benefit has yet to be developed. There are lots of reports about employment, dollars all over the place, and so on, but most that I’ve read fall back on some rendition of “actual measure of economic development in stakeholder communities is hard to quantify”.

I think it’s time to pay attention to the  too much ignored talk from member communities who feel cut off from the CDQs which were formed to serve them, left out of  the loop, and at the mercy of decisions by corporate officers who seem very out of touch with on-the-ground realities in these communities. This has been exacerbated by the further distance folks have from the subsidiaries.

There is still too much talk from stakeholders that the CDQs have become a real part of the very thing which seems to threaten subsistence salmon fisheries a great deal, trawling, and as such have become a double edged sword.

Like ANSCA corporations CDQs are peculiar, in the sense of unusual and unique , experiments in social management of resources for the benefit of a particular group of people.

I have grave doubts as to the efficacy of corporate structure to do what is called for in either case.

Actually, the corporatization of communities under ANSCA torches my shorts but that is another conversation for another day.


Agh. I sometimes think we have become the Land of Corporations,

forget that Midnight Sun thingy…

Published in: on April 9, 2011 at 8:32 pm  Comments (21)  

27th Legislature -Session starts January 18th

It’s time to start paying attention !

Prefiled bills can be viewed here and here.

You can sign up to track bills you want to follow.

You can get a lot of information, including audio recordings of committee hearings and  get in touch with your own legislators .

We are very lucky in this state to have access to so much of what is going on.

Time to get to work ! 🙂

Published in: on January 17, 2011 at 7:01 pm  Comments (3)  

As we turn…

and run toward the light…

I am willing…

Published in: on December 22, 2010 at 6:39 pm  Comments (3)